Elizabeth (Abbie Lee) marries a brilliant, wise, wealthy doctor named Henry (Ciaran Hinds). She is soon introduced to her large new mansion, which she will call home. Her dreams and long-term desires are finally being fulfilled- she now owns a big home with a wardrobe of endless clothing, jewels, an indoor swimming pool, lots of money and servants by her side (played by Carla Gugino & Matthew Beard). But while Elizabeth is getting the tour of her new home from her husband, she notices a room she hasn’t been introduced to. After questioning this mystery room with her husband, he tells her that this is the one off-limits room, and she is said never to go in there. Elizabeth agrees and, at first, respects her husband’s wishes. But when her new husband has to go away on a work trip, she is naturally tempted to investigate and is curious about what her husband could be hiding from her.
For the sake of spoilers, the above is all I can reveal about the film’s plot. I will state the film’s genre is a thriller with added sci-fi elements. As a plot, the film gets right into it. The audience is given a great understanding of what has just happened with Elizabeth. Elements such as arriving at her new home while still in her wedding dress is one example of minor details we are given for the sake of time. The film’s setup is excellent, and I honestly couldn’t fault it, but once Elizabeth begins to get bored, as an audience, we all know what’s coming. Based on Abbie Lee’s performance alone, I started to formulate ideas about the film’s twists, and one of my theories turned out to be correct. This was disappointing to me when the film is trying to build up a big mystery and suspense. The film’s pace does tend to drag on in the 2nd act, during which I felt that the film wasn’t going in any solid direction. Thankfully this picks up in the third act when the plot attempts to bring more twists and turns and manages to regain some of my engagement. Because of the film’s direction, the film feels more of a slow-paced burn rather than a fast-paced, suspenseful thriller (even more so in the second act).
While it makes sense to have Elizabeth as a leading character in this film, the performance from Abbie Lee is relatively average. I’ll clarify and say she isn’t horrible here, nor is she terrific, but it’s merely a performance that is nothing new when I compare it to other films with similar plots and setups. A more enjoyable performance was given by Elizabeth’s Husband, played by Ciaran Hinds. His character continually arouses suspicions and gives off a somewhat “I’m evil” vibe whenever he is present on the screen.
Visually I can see the director has attempted to be creative with the filming style. Some of these choices are stunning to look at visually. At certain moments, I can understand why the director takes the time to film long/extended scenes, and the style can be stunning to enjoy. At other times we have the use of split screens which is also a nice touch, but I didn’t feel that it was required, nor did I think it was used throughout the film to help build tension. The film’s overall look is also rather dark, and dark/intense colours such as red are used throughout the film too, which is fun to see. In the end, I feel some movie audiences will find pleasure in this style of filming and its style of direction.
Overall, I found elements of enjoyment while watching Elizabeth Harvest, but in the end, as the credits rolled down, I felt the film didn’t provide features that were new or fresh. Some of these reasons relate to our leading actress. The film has a good setup, but its mysteries were either predictable or a little hard to accept. The film’s style is somewhat optimistic, but I feel it won’t be for everyone. If you desire a slow-burning sci-fi film, this could be something you may find pleasure in. Elizabeth Harvest (2018) is Available on Shudder from August 2nd!